SpartanNerd…”Theros Block, I am going to miss you!”

Theros Block….I Am Going to Miss You
First of all, Theros Block is the first block that I am SUPER SAD to see rotate out of standard.  These are cards that I “just get.”  Everything from the Greek Fantasy flavor and motif, to the moody standard environment that the block created, both with Ravnica Block and Khans of Tarkir Block, as well as with the associated core sets M14, M15, AND Magic Origins.  Theros, Born of the Gods, and Journey Into Nyx have been terrific fun to play, study, and collect.  The set has taught me a lot about what kind of Magic player I am.  And it is the first set that I began to identify myself as a “serious player.”  The cards here are rotating out of Standard to make way for The Battle for Zendikar Block, but they will continue to reverberate through Modern, Legacy, and maybe even Vintage.  What cards will I miss?  Here are some of my thoughts about the cards.
Thoughtsieze.
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“Thought Sneeze” Why is he looking at his hands?

Wow.  The first card I ever paid big bucks for.  I opened two in booster packs, and paid $40 apiece for the other two.  Why was/is this card so expensive?  This card found its way into 90% of all of my standard decks over the past two years.  And it has been a staple in Modern.  Playable in a Rack deck, or Esper Control, Reanimator.  This card is one of the “nuts and bolts” of Magic the Gathering.  This card is similar to Snapcaster Mage….only “more available” currently.
I remember Thoughtsiezing out Stormbreath Dragons, Elspeth Sun’s Champion, all kinds of gods, other Thoughtsiezes, Pack Rats, Detention Spheres, and on and on the list goes.  This card became an essential part of Abzan decks as Khans of Tarkir block unfolded.  You could stop their Jeskai Ascendancy combo in its tracks, get rid of Ugin, get rid of Wingmate Roc, Siege Rhino, or Seeker of the Way.
In my circles, Modern tends to be a super fast format.  Thoughtsieze is a great sideboard card to slow down some of those opponents…taking out their Tarmogoyfs or Snapcaster Mages before they can do any good.  Someone offered me a trade for some of my Thoughtsiezes one day.  No way!  This card is currently “down in value,” which happens before rotation.  But this card could only go up in value again as it become rare again.
The other thing about the card is it lets you see the opponents hand.  I learned “write it down!”
Thoughtsieze, or as I have christened you, “Thought Sneeze, (even funnier because of the art), you will be missed in Standard.  Duress and Despise are only shadows of what you were!
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
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The card that got me my first ever TOP 8!.  I actually made it to the final round…facing an esper control player who favored Sphynx’s Revelation.  It was right after Born of the Gods came out…at the time, Ravnica Block also gave us Nightveil Spector, who was also an incredible card in the death machine that was Mono-Black Devotion.  You basically Pack Rat and Mutavault, eventually getting out Nightveil Spectors, excellent flying things that exiled away the opponents cards, acquired new resources for you, and provided three devotion to blue or black.  Then you dropped a Gray Merchant of Aspodel on the board, and GG.
When Ravnica Block rotated out, this strategy fought to remain in favor.  The Spectors really made it work.  Master of the Feast however usually proved unreliable because he would give them a card and they would either kill him, bounce him, tap him, or cancel your Gray Merchant.  Mono Black has been further undercut by Sphynx’s Tutelage, sadness for the SpartanNerd, (who really favors black.)
Gray Merchant, you will be remembered.  I don’t know that you will ever make waves again.  But you will be remembered.  I am storing away a playset in one binder slot for that off chance you actually do make a future splash!
Courser of Kruphix….
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A card I’m not going to miss.  And it’s not because I don’t own him.  Or even because I don’t like him.  (Either on my side of the field or theirs.)  The Courser of Kruphix reminds me of the time that I decided to stop playing Standard.  Why?  Because EVERYONE WAS PLAYING THE SAME DECK.  Abzan Aggro, Abzan Mid-Range, and Abzan Control all made use of the Courser.  Want to build a warrior deck?  Great.  But the courser will outlast you.  A burn deck (not the SpartanNerd.)  But the Courser’s ability to gain you life for playing lands takes away the point.  How about Jeskai decks with Prowess.  The Courser is a 2/4 big blocker.  In fact Some Jeskai players added green to their decks just because the Courser was so good.
I’ve said the downside of playing the Courser of Kruphix is that the opponent gets to see the top card of the library.  And it’s true, this WAS RELEVANT when the card first came out and people were still figuring him out.  But as Theros Block waxed long in the tooth, people figured out how to keep the revealed knowledge from being relevant.
The Courser of Kruphix was EVERYWHERE.  Both it and the Sylvan Caryatid seemed to always be in the same deck.
YAWN.
Speaking of the Sylvan Carytid
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This is the next card on my list!  I will not miss the Sylvan Carytid for the same reason I won’t be missing Thoughtsieze.  Now this card isn’t that expensive, and it has seen multiple printings also, getting honored in Event Decks, and also in the Clash Pack with alternate art.
The Sylvan Carytid isn’t quite Noble Hierarch.  But she approaches her.  This is a source of mana of any color, that is difficult to remove.  And it is also a big blocker on the ground for the early game.  Will this card fetch $30 – $60 someday?  I doubt it.  Like I said, not QUITE Noble Hierarch, (one of the greatest mana ramp cards ever.)
The Sylvan Carytid has helped me learn to build a four-color deck for the first time.  I decided to play in a PPTQ tournament at The Tangled Web Comic book store in Spartanburg SC, and I took my Esper “Gifts Ungiven” reanimator deck.  I remember one player telling me…”Wow.  This is a SLOW deck.”  I went home with big losses….(I won’t be playing in any more of those for a LONG time.)  But I decided to work on the problem.  Why was the deck so slow?  One of the reasons was the slow mana-base.  Sylvan Caryatid helped me fix this.  Not that it is a perfect deck yet…(I need at least two Snapcaster Mages and three Lilana, of the Veil.)  Still, my four-color deck featuring the Carytid and also Fleecemane Lion is far faster.  And the second claim I can make for it is that I have NEVER HAD MANA SCREW with the deck.
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Thank you, Sylvan Carytid.  Your teachings have been invaluable, and netted me two FNM tournament wins!
Bile Blight
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Ahhh….the first ever box of Magic cards that I ever pre-ordered.  Born of the Gods.  (WAA…Waaa…waa)
Out of Thirty Six packs of cards, I was very interested in getting two cards.  Herald of Torment and Bile Blight.
I got NEITHER CARD.  OK, so the Herald was a rare.  I get that I wasn’t supposed to get him necessarily.  But BILE BLIGHT!  Uncommon.  i SHOULD have gotten at least one copy!
Nope.  I spent the whole weekend after I got my box going around Greenville, and even Hendersonville looking for copies of these cards.  I was able to come up with TWO copies.
Why was this uncommon gem so hard to find, with its price of less than a dollar?
The Born of the Gods EVENT DECK had TWO COPIES.  It is my theory, and just a theory, but probably a good one, that the Wizards held them back from he first wave of boxes, so that they could keep them uncommon and stuff them into the event decks.
Bile Blight is a super handy removal spell against token strategies.  Yes, it costs two blacks, demanding you to play Mono-Black devotion or similar.  And it was great in mirror matches.  When Mono-Black devotion died down, it was semi-OK against Elspeth.  The card is currently good against Hangarback Walker.  (It worked great against Pack Rat.)
I don’t think this card is going anywhere.  It is an efficient kill spell for one creature, or great at wiping out mana-elves, or hordes of tokens.  It works great against Fleecemane lion as well. Even if one of them is Monstrous, if you play the card right.  Have the Monstrous Fleecemane block some small critter and lose a little chunk, then hit a non-monstrous one on the battlefield with Bile Blight, and in perfect Magic World, you took care of a big problem.
For the rest of my story, I did eventually buy Herald of Torment…he never was expensive, and he really is just OK.  It was good to bestow him onto a Siege Rhino and fly in for the kill.  I eventually ordered the promo version of Bile Blight, which has creepier art with soldiers melting.  (No stores around here got copies of the promo.  I paid like $5 for it!  But it is a card I really like.)
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Bile Blight, I will keep you in my Modern toolbox.  As a player closely identified with black, I consider you as better than Doom Blade, Smother, or even Murderous Cut, or just Murder.  You can’t kill everything.  But you can -3/-3 things with indestructible.  And if played against the right deck, you can gain card advantage on the field.  Thank you for your service!
Scry Lands.
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I actually have about ten more of these in various decks.

I almost jumped for joy when the Wizards announced that Scry was going to become an evergreen ability.  YAY!
Scry Lands, you are slow.  Probably too slow for Modern, almost ever.  Definitely not shock lands or fetch lands.  Serum Visions kicks your butt.
But if you want fixing that you don’t miNd being a little slow with a small benefit attached, scry lands are better than say, “Refuges,” or “gain lands.”  And light years better than guildgates. (shudder.)
I will keep you around.  I expect you will be re-printed in the future, maybe with different art.  And then the Theros block Scry Lands will see value again.  We’ll see!
Erebos, God of the Dead
How could I create such a list and omit some Gods.  The God cards were the flagships of the Theros block.  There were five “major gods” and ten “minor gods.”
Here’s the list.
Heliod, God of the Sun
Thassa God of the Sea
Erebos, God of the Dead
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Atheros, God of Passage
Ephara, God of the Polis
Iroas, God of Victory
Karametra, God of Harvests
Keranos, God of Storms
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Mogis, God of Slaughter
Pharika, God of Affliction
Phenax, God of Deception
Xenagos, God of Revels
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All of the Gods I have left. I have owned each one, but traded them.

There are only two truly significant cards on this list, Erebos and Thassa.  Basically the others were played around with, but might have made a mark for about a week and then disappeared.
Each of the major gods, (the first five listed,) had a weapon, and the weapons saw more play than the gods themselves.
But Erebos really stands a head taller than all of the others.  Mostly because of the Mono-Black Devotion deck.  In such a deck, Erebos is an unstoppable death machine.  If you can get him “turned on” by having five swamp symbols on the battlefield under your control, Erebos is incredible.  And his card draw ability is also really good if you only wish to view him as an enchantment.
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While Thassa and Nylea both THREATENED to create mono-colored devotion strategies, Erebos actually made it happen.  (i’m not being fair entirely.  Xenagos also sees a little bit of play.)
It seems like the Gods will be back whenever the Wizards bring Theros back in ten years or so.  They might just shift the whole thing to reflect Rome instead of Greece.  I wonder how they will change the gods?
The Whip of Erebos will also be missed.  That card really could wreak havoc if you were able to whip a Siege Rhino, or even better a Gray Merchant out of your graveyard, letting you drain your opponent with evil black devotion.  And the whip seems so innoccuous sometimes.  And then BAM.  Big problems.
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Erebos, I will miss you and your whip.  I don’t know if a mono-black strategy will ever resurge in Modern.  It seems viable.  There are plenty of cards that provide the devotion you need.  Phylactery Lich, Geralf’s Messenger, and on and on I could name.  The whip will find its way into reanimator decks I’m sure.
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion  (Not pictured)
Ah…Elspeth.  The control card of choice for such a long time.  You were expensive, then they re-printed you in the duel deck, Elspeth vs. Kiora.  (The art in that deck is even prettier than the original.)
Elspeth was mainly used to create white-weenie chumps as a finishing move for a control deck.  Occasionally, people would destroy a large creature with her roll-down ability.  But usually, she would get nine chumps on the field, and then an emblem, and they would all hammer you hard.
Bile Blight was good against the chumps.  But if you are in Bile Blight mode at that point in the game, it was usually over anyways.  (Remember, you are playing a control player.)
It got to where Hero’s Downfall was needed…
Hero’s Downfall…  (not pictured)
Similar to an earlier Rakdos card from Ravnica Block.  (Dreadbore).  This card was an instant kill for a creature or planeswalker.  I think this card will become a staple against planeswalkers if people aren’t playing red for that other card…
Stormbreath Dragon  (I don’t own a copy!)
I don’t own one of these.  Never have. Never will I don’t think.  (Not a red player.)
I won’t miss this guy beating my tail.  Enough said!
I loved Despising him out of my opponents hand.  This means I traded my 25-cent card for their $25 card.  But only if I was lucky.
Now for a few other cards rotating out…
Liliana Vess
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If the SpartanNerd was a magic card….

I literally SHOUTED when I saw they were re-printing Lilliana Vess for M15.  And I opened her at the pre-release, and used her to bring home a win.  (We actually split the box four ways…it was at a store at the beach that no longer has Magic tournaments, sadly.)  Lilliana.  I have this joke with my boys.  “I AM Lilliana.”  Which always gets a reaction from my youngest.
Few things are more satisfying in the game of Magic than re-animating every creature from every graveyard.  Lilliana can do this with her ultimate ability.  She is also a great card for tutoring up what you need.
I believe this to be her final re-print, unless they put her in some special set, reprint her for Commander, or similar.  This was her fifth printing, more than almost any other Planeswalker card.  (Lorwyn, M12, M13, Duel Decks Garruk vs. Lilliana, and M15.  There are actually six re-prints if you count the Duel Deck Anthology version.)
If Magic the Gathering has a villain, it is likely Nicol Bolas.  Lilliana is second place.  (Maybe Ob-Nixilis.)  (If not the Eldrazi)
I wish the Wizards had printed Lilliana of the Veil.  And according to their Making Magic articles, they almost did.  She would have been great!
I will set Lilliana back in her place of honor at the beginning of my Modern binder beside my other favorite cards, Grave Titan, and Elbrus, the Binding Blade.
and last but not least
Waste Not
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Waste Not represents a card that can be a “sleeper.”  One thing that I have learned from the Theros Block is about the “meta-game.”  What cards do people play?  What is popular?  What is popular at the Tangled Web as opposed to other places?  This is the meta-game.  And I have only met one other player brave enough/ stupid enough to try and rip a hole in the meta-game by playing a Waste Not deck.
Waste Not isn’t a valuable card.  I generally runs less than $5.  It has the distinction of being designed by the Magic Community.
I played a Waste Not deck in response to the flood of Abzan Decks with some success.  But I got tired of it.  People started expecting me to play it.  And then it was rendered pretty much useless by Sphynx’s Tutelage.
The point of the deck was load up stuff that forced the opponent to discard.  Thoughtsieze of course, Despise, and Durress.  There is an insane combo card for this in Dark Deal.  When the opponent discarded cards, good things would happen for you if Waste Not was on the field, and even more good things if multiple copies were on the field.  You would be generating Mana, drawing cards, or getting zombie tokens.
But zombie tokens don’t fly.  You can’t force the opponent to ditch lands apart from Black Cat or Dark Deal.  Too many discard spells become useless…if your opponent doesn’t have any cards in hand, then you have dead cards.  If the opponent gets a choice to discard a card, then they usually ditch a land.  (Kolaghan’s Command forces them to discard a card at instant speed, usually a land which generates mana that you usually can’t use.)
Waste Not was a fun card for me for awhile.  But I was never able to top-8 with a Waste Not deck.
I belive Waste Not to still be useful in an 8rack deck…I am building one.  But it just isn’t as fun as reanimator for me right now, so….
Hub City Geeks, what cards will you miss from the Theros Block (and M15.)  Let me know in the comments!
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SparanNerd…”Return To Ravnica Block…I am going to miss you!”

When I started playing Magic the Gathering, I had a vague idea of what a “set” was.  I didn’t get the full on meaning to the game.  “Return to Ravnica” and its two companion sets, “Gatecrash” and “Dragon’s Maze” were the sets that truly absorbed me into the game and taught me that there was a new and an old in MTG.

As I accrued more and more of these cards, I began longing for the day that the “Innistrad” block would rotate out of Standard…I was at a disadvantage…I didn’t play seriously when those sets were released, so I didn’t have “Cavern of Souls” or “Geist of St. Traft” or “Olivia Voldaren” to stomp my opponents in the ground.  True, I did have some cards from the sets, but I was a learning player.  And I knew when Innistrad rotated out, “Theros” block would be the new thing, and I wouldn’t have this problem so much anymore…instead I could do like my really good opponents and build stadard decks as they are meant to be built, with maximum resources.

But as much excitement as I have for the release of “Kahns of Tarkir” next week, I find it bittersweet.  the RTR block has been good to me, and now that I am having to retire a bunch of my cards, (at least for Standard), I am reflecting on what the cards mean to me and what they have taught me.

I will also be talking about “Magic The Gathering Core Set 2014” or “M14” cards that are rotating out as well.

Below I will provide a photo, and a “tearful goodbye” paragraph.  Enjoy!

Nightveil Spector

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Vampire Nighthawk had me spoiled…She was one of my favorite cards to play when I began playing this game.  A three drop with flying and other abilities, in black, is just perfect!  The Nightveil Spector was a good replacement for the Nighthawk.  This card was good, and when Theros came out, it kept getting even better!  The Nightveil Spector was easily the card I played the most over the last year, besides “Gray Merchant,” who was part of the reason this guy was so good!  I have a story about this involving “Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.”  Here I am, playing Mono Black devotion, with two Spectors on the field. I steal my opponents card with the spector, and instantly think…”Dang.  I can’t play it.”  But then I realize…How could I forget?  The Spector is also blue!  So I charged up my Shrine using the blue devotion supplied by the Spector, (who just stole the card…) and played Fated Infatuation…a Three drop spell that lets me copy another creature and then scry.  This moment won me the game!

Nightveil Spector, you’re insanely good.  Me and the Gray Merchant are all that much grayer without you.  I will even miss your art, though only the special foil is really good…

Lotleth Troll

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Another insanely good card.  And a card that seems to have been forgotten in the current metagame.  Too bad for everyone else.  This troll is a real fighter.  On turn three, when your red opponent thinks he can burn the troll before you have enough mana to regenerate, BAM.  You just put your Desecration Demon, Jarrad Lich Lord, and Erebos God of the Dead in the graveyard to give him counters…an alternate way of saving him!  Then on turn four you have a troll that can swing for five..WITH TRAMPLE!  This combat trick drew awe from many newer opponents.  I always played four copies of the troll in my “Junk” deck.  I would even ditch trolls to pump trolls.  This guy is a game winner.  I never got to draft one.  But I’d bet you in draft this guy is unstoppable.

I’ll miss you, Lotleth Troll.  May the “Abzan House” find more ways to help you out in Modern!

Lilliana of the Dark Realms

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My favorite card EVER is Lilliana Vess, clearly a superior Lily to this card.  But LOTDR has uses…

This card taught me about deck thinner…a concept every Magic player should learn.  So you have to have 60 cards in a deck…Why not figure out how to get what you need faster…and LOTDR ability to find swamps in your deck and place them in your hand keeps you from having dead draws.  I often would use this card as a burn spell also.  Her negative ability is basically “mutilate” for one creature.  But it is her ultimate and emblem that makes this card crazy if used properly.

Not long ago, maybe two months ago…I decided to play this card along with “Rakdos’ Return.”  The Rakdos card isn’t something I played much…Really I had never played it in a tournament.  But three times that night, I was able to burn my opponent for lethal damage by using Lililiana’s Emblem ability and a copy of Rakdos Return.  One time was a spectacular win, where I was down to one life and was topdecking.  I actually said out loud to my opponent, after he sent all of his damage to my face, “If I don’t draw the right card, you win the game.”  But I drew my lone copy of Rakdos Return and burned him for 36 damage.  Not bad at all!  And it was a moment were people suddenly started whispering around the room.  I could hear the words “Rakdos Return for 36 with Lilliana’s Emblem.”

I guess I will have to thin my deck with “fetch lands” or “evolving wilds” (gasp!) from now on. Lilliana of the Dark Realms, whether or not the wizards like you or not (they don’t), I will miss you! Good luck getting rid of that cursed veil!

Shock Lands…

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As I moved into regular tournaments, I started to see that usually it was the seasoned players not playing the regular lands.  Instead they played special lands…especially “Buddy Lands” and the like.  The “Shock Lands” confounded me.  Why would you pay two life for a dual land when clearly it was unnesecary?  And there were “Guildgates” which were basically the same thing, but always entered the battlefield tapped.

Thankfully this mystery was solved for me as I played more and more MTG.  The shock lands increase your chance of having the mana you need available when you need it.  Guildgates are just too slow.  “Buddy lands,” “Evolving Wilds,” Transguild Promenade…these are good for formats other than standard.  (Sealed is a good place for these)  The standard environment tends to be…”fastest man with card advantage wins”.  You are technically “behind” a land drop if your land enters the battlefield tapped.  The life you pay for a shock land pays off in the end.

Shocklands, I will not miss you.  You are being replaced with “Fetch Lands,” which will be used to find you in Modern!

Mazes End

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I have three different printings of this card…Sad really.

Maze’s End was a gimmick where you could play ten different guildgates, then tap the Mazes End to win the game.

That’s all you have to do.

See the above entry about the Shocklands to see why this is a bad idea.  Oh yeah.  You pretty much have to play at least THREE COPIES of the guildgates to make this work, so that’s thirty cards, plus four copies of Mazes End.  That’s 34 slow cards.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t fun to win this way against little kids and noobs especially.  It is a fine SLOW game plan.  No one has quite figured out how to play this strategy in Modern as a reliable strategy either, (yet.)

Mazes End…you are a nice concept.  I will miss the cute feelings young kids express when you beat them down without swinging.  Other than that, I will keep my deck together for a rainy day…

Jarad, Golgori Lich Lord

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I love this guiy.  He’s hard to kill and goes nicely in the “junk” deck beside Lotleth Troll.  And I have two foils!  Jarad can beat you down in THREE DIFFERENT WAYS!  Regular swinging (with counters), as a “sac outlet” which you can also use as a burn spell, and as a surprise attack later in the game when you can give up a few lands, and when he comes back in that late game, he will have a ton more counters on him!

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, I will miss opponents just scooping when they see you enter the battlefield the second time.  May Abzan house or Sultai be good to you in Modern!

Desecration Demon

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OK, I already mentioned that Lilianna Vess is my favorite card.  But truth is I have two more favorites.  Grave Titan and Elbrus the Binding Blade/Whithingar Unbound.

I mention this because the Binding Blade was my first “demon” card.  I was pretty allergic to the idea of playing demons…until I figured out they were game winners!

Desecration Demon isn’t any different.  (I like to call him “Double D.”)  There was a time abut four months ago, that this card was upending everyone’s game with Mono Black Devotion.  But before you know it, people figured out the trick to beating Double D here is to just sac something.  Sure he gets a counter, but they just bought more time to draw removal.  And until Master of the Feast came out, you pretty much could count on people playing this guy.

But a 6/6 flyer for four, in all black…That’s broken.  (But not if they sac an ornithopter, an Elvish Mystic, or a 1/1 chump token.)

Desecration Demon, I will miss you because you were reliable for awhile.  Then I learned something about the meta-game.  It is always changing.  You really were a fad, like silly bands and jelly shoes.  But you are being retired to the binder of rares.  Maybe I’ll trade your foil for a “Butcher of the Horde”!

Detention Sphere

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In the early days of Return to Ravnica, I played “Azorius.”  You should read this article.  While I prefer Esper nowadays, (gotta have the black too.)

I regularly played Azorius in my earliest standard tournaments.  I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t work our for me.  I was locking down their creatures.  In those early days, full on control wasn’t played so often.  So I was trying to quickly arrest their creatures, exile their stuff, etc.  To sweep the board would have been a nightmare for me.  Nevermind that hasty red creatures usually beat me, or giant green creatures would beat me.  Geist of St Traft would beat me.  In fact, I got beat a lot.

Detention Sphere was a key part of this strategy.  But as Theros came out, there were more ways to easily remove enchantments.  And this card almost disappeared.  But it was feared against “pack rat” if you played that particular strategy in Mono Black.  (It could exile all of your Pack Rats!)

D-Sphere, I will miss you and your controlling ways on the battlefield.  You will continue to be beast in Esper Control as a Modern Staple my friend.

Fencing Ace

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Here we have three would be friends.  Near the end of last year, as I locked into a regular Standard routine, I began to try a new strategy, “Heros.”  My Hero deck had the Fencing Ace as a main player…you can’t beat his double strike!  But then he got a few helpers…one was a big brother “Fabled Hero,” a double striker who could be pumped if enchanted (He has Heroic).  And Fiendslayer Paladin, a card that makes people “pooh” and “a hhh”

Because the ace was so slow to start with, I tried numerous ways to speed him up.  One way was Savage Siummoning, the green foil you see above.  But rarely did that ever work out.  You were flashing in one of these heroes before your opponent could respond, then whacking them upside their head with double strike something or another.  The strategy would work, except you have to draw what you need at the right time.  I remember rearranging one guys face on turn three once.  That’s about it.  Usually, my opponent would find some way to adjust.  If they could just stop the double strikers, then I would lose.  Big time.

Fabled Hero, I think I am going to miss you because I never seemed to be able to find you when I needed you.  Even though you were uncommon, I felt compelled to leave you in my rare binder.  You went well with so many others…Two-Headed Cerberus, Fabled Hero, Skylasher, Satyr Hoplite, and more even.  You begged to be pumped and enchanted.  And I was much obliged.  But you just weren’t good enough.  Can’t wait to really figure out how to use you some day!

Mutavault

10 Mutavault

So I played in the South Carolina Star City Games State Tournament (probably not a good idea.)  I lost terribly.  I didn’t have one of these cards.  One of the best cards in the format.  So I dropped $30 on a copy while there.  (I regretfully traded one that I got at the 2014 pre-release, not knowing what I was doing!)  This card became a real hit in the mono-black strategy, working well with Pack Rat especially.  (you made a surprise rat!)

But this card died easily to “eye gauge”  A surprise kidney punch if someone side boarded it against mono-black.

I am NOT GOING TO MISS YOU.  I wish I had never seen you.  I wish I had saved my $30.  You are not a bad card. Nope.  You are great at what you do. But you NEVER SHOW UP when I need you to pump my rats.  (I only have one copy.)

Maybe I’ll trade the $30 copy.  Last time I checked, it still was $30 right at rotation time!

Sphinx’s Revelation and Supreme Verdict

11 SRev SV

I include these two because they became my arch enemy.  As I moved to a Mono-black strategy that was getting me into the final rounds of tournaments, I feared these two cards to most.   And because Sphinx’s Rev was woefully out of my price range, I couldn’t even try to pull together a mirror match for all the Sphinx’s Revelation control decks that were popping up in response to Mono-Black.

First of all, the sweeper.  What good is devotion if you have no creatures on the field.  Supreme verdict also CAN”T BE COUNTERED!  (Enough said.)

But Sphinx’s Revelation is a card that wins games outright.  A control player not only gains life, but draws as many cards as they would like, and this card gets played as an instant at the end of your turn.  Too bad for you.  They are generally looking for “Elspeth, Sun’s Champion” or “Supreme Verdict.”  Then they hit you with that on the next turn.  And you are dead before you know. it.

I finally bought a playlet of Sphinx’s Revelation two weeks ago for $8 a piece.  Considering it was $40 just about a month prior, i figured now was the time to buy.  This card isn’t going anywhere.  It will become a staple in all of Magic.

I will not miss seeing you across the table, Sphinx’s Revelation and Supreme Verdict.  BUT I look forward to a future playing you in Modern!

Deathrite Shaman

12 Deathrite S

Ah.  My first banned card.

Did you know that this guy was $40 to $60 dollars before he was banned in modern?  One drops with powerful abilities ten to be like that.

One day they will unban you from Modern, and then I will play you good.

You can guess that I used this guy a lot in both Mono-Black devotion and Junk.  And you would be right.  He is a nifty card.  I guess you will take up a spot in my binder after rotation.  I will miss you, Deathrite Shaman.

Doom Blade

13 Doom Blade

Here is a card that I learned to play early, hated when they rotated it, and cheered when they brought it back.  This is the card that taught me to have a sideboard.  You didn’t want this in your hand if you were playing against another player who was playing black.  But it is good removal against everyone else.  In draft, it was also a great card, you get just about ANY removal you can.

I’ll miss you, Doom Blade.  I wonder if you will be reprinted in the FINAL CORE SET, M16?

So what cards are you going to miss, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments.  I intend to begin doing an article like this anytime there is a rotation in the future if I get responses or if I see a lot of traffic here.

SpartanNerd…Battle Royale of the MTG Challenge Decks

 

 

 

 

 

big match 3 decks

 

So I have been meaning to do this for awhile…Sorry that I haven’t even reviewed the Journey To Nyx “Defeat a God” Challenge Deck.  But it seems a little late.  The idea is to have the three decks play against each other!  Each deck is a self running machine.  But I employed the SpartanSmurfs for help!

 

I chose the Hydra…SpartanSmurf #1 chose to run the Minotaur deck (Battle the Horde)….and SpartanSmurf #2, still enamored by the newness of it, decided to play “Defeat a God.” (Xenagos)

 

To begin with, I predicted that the Hydra Deck would win because it has beaten me more regularly than the others.  I have never lost to either of the other decks.  (WAA Waa was.)  Was I correct?  I thought the Minotaurs would fall first and the God would fall last.

 

Well…

 

For your entertainment, some pics of MOTU guys with the deck!

 

  • He-Man, either ready to slaw the Hydra, or representing all of the vibrant life that it embodies..Same as he does.
  • Mantenna…um….He is a member of the Horde…(Sorry.  Not rich enough for the classics version!)
  • Skeletor….In the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie, Skeletor gains the power of Grayskull and declares himself a “god.”

 

big match he big match mant big match skele

 

 

OK.  On with the show.  The Hydra had an advantage…The instructions say you can’t mill his deck.  On the other hand, the other two decks can “take damage.”  You mill the decks for the amount of damage you give them.

 

Then Xenagos seems to have a disadvantage in that he doesn’t get to attack each turn.  On the other hand…he is indestructible…

 

The minotaur deck seems to be the weakest.  And those artifacts that get milled give it a big disadvantage, so it seems….

 

Well I was COMPLETELY WRONG!  The Hydra fell first….and in only like, four turns!  Xenagos was able to do it in.  Then fifteen minutes later Xenagos took the fall.  “Battle the Horde” actually won!

(The hydra heads generally only swing for 1 or 2 damage.  And the Satyrs and Minotaurs are both generally tougher than that.)

 

The artifacts don’t get life back and stuff like that for the self running decks.  So they weren’t a downside at all.  And then those minotaurs just crunch in unrelenting.

 

So there you have it.  Try it on your own and share your results in the comments!

SpartanNerd Scoop…Journey Into Nyx Starter Deck Unboxing and Review

I got a freebie at the Tangled Web Journey Into Nyx Pre-release tournament…”The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck from the new Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros Block in Magic the Gathering.

Here is my unboxing and review!

I like this color scheme.  My color blinded self originally thought this was blue...then after studying it...I saw it as purple!  The box showcases a foil promo version of "Heroe's Bane," a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

I like this color scheme. My color blinded self originally thought this was blue…then after studying it…I saw it as purple! The box showcases a foil promo version of “Heroe’s Bane,” a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

 

The back of the box...

The back of the box…

Let’s dig in!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see.  Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs.  I decided to save the booster packs for last...You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see. Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs. I decided to save the booster packs for last…You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away.  But this paper is the important one.  I really dig the art from this set so far.  The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good.  This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away. But this paper is the important one. I really dig the art from this set so far. The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good. This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

 

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks.  Here is a closeup of "The Wilds and the Deep" deck list.  Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic.  These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don't make a deck archetype well.  (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks. Here is a closeup of “The Wilds and the Deep” deck list. Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic. These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don’t make a deck archetype well. (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Now for a look at the cards.

6 creatures

Here are the creatures and the lands.

7 notable creatures

Here are the notable creatures. Golden Hind is a mana chump, Bassara Tower Archer has hex proof, Ravenous Luerocota has Monstrosity, Swarmborn Giant is basically a green Desecration Demon, Fleetfeathered Cocatrice is the oddball of the group. And then Heroe’s Bane, with its exploding counters song and dance.

Here are the other spells in the deck.  (meh...)

Here are the other spells in the deck. (meh…)

This is a pretty good deck all around.  I mean, it certainly can be improved…but that is the point, isn’t it?  It is a deck archetype that the wizards suggest and serves as a starting point, especially for a beginner.  So I gave the deck to SpartanSmurf #2, knowing that he was going to LOVE casting that Hero’s Bane Hydra and making him huge!

Now for something I have never done before.  I am going to open my booster packs and slowly reveal the contents to you, Oh Hub City Geeks!

9 booster 1a 10 booster 1b 11 booster 1c

Of these, I would like to point out Satyr Gravedancer, one of my new favorites simply because once I wrote a song called “Gravedancer”!  My opponents played Sigiled Skink against me during the Pre-Release.  I personally don’t think the Font cards are that good, at least for the most part.  You are generally paying more in the long run for something other cards can do faster and better.  I guess since Constellation is a big deal, it is good to have access to those abilities as enchantments.

This pack had a Rare and a Foil…

12 notable cards from this booster

The Eidolon of Blossoms is touted as a new Enchantress type of card.  I’m glad to own her!  And I guess Triton Cavalry is alright too.  (I don’t generally play the Merfolk.)

Time for pack two….

13 booster 2a 14 booster 2b 15 booster 2c

The cards in this pack “speak to me” a little more.  The white cards really got a boost this time.  This pack has a few things with Strive, and also Heroic, two mechanics born for each other.  I like the Golden Hind, though it’s no Elvish Mystic, and also the Cloaked Siren, who can flash in.

The rare in this deck is “Bearer of the Heavens.”  A totally unplayable card in Standard.  This pack came with a Spider token.  What I need is a Snake token!

16 notable cards from this pack

All around I was happy to be one of the first to unbox one of these starter decks for the whole internet to see.  I grade this deck as a 2/5 as far as playable in standard right out of the box.  But as a product as a whole, it gets 5/5, because it does what it says it does well.  And I was glad to give the cards to my son.  (I gave the Booster Pack cards to my other son.)

 

What would you rate “The Wilds and the Deep?”  Let me know in the comments!